The Chief of staff of the National Guard of Ukraine lieutenant-general Oleksandr KRYVENKO: «The NGU`s transition to the NATO standards is a very complicated and long-lasting process but it is really necessary» (PHOTOS)

06.02.2017 16:06

There was the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defense Reform (JWGDR) in the Brussels, capital ofthe Kingdom of Belgium. During the event first deputy Commander-in-chief of the National guard of Ukraine (chief of staff) lieutenant-general Oleksandr KRYVENKO informed the participants about the reforming the National Guard of Ukraine (hereinafter – the NGU).

After his coming back general KRYVENKO gave the interview and explained the NGU`s policy on transition to the NATO standards and also described how the activity of the agency would change after beginning of its implementation.

– General, term “NATO standards” is quite abstract for most of our readers. Would you be so kind to explain what does it mean and what standards are being implemented into the NGU`s activity right now?

– First of all you should understand that military-political system of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO is based on the four types of standards, one of them is Standardization Agreement (STANAG) and each of them has its own number. It is vital for the NATO, as a political union with military arm, to assure the development of command & control system, armament and combat service support spheres by all member and partner states, including Ukraine, in the same way. In other words, the procedures must be equal and clear for each other. If for example a senior commander tasks some unit consisting of representatives of different countries, all of them must act according to the same standards.

– There are about 1300 standards within the NATO system. Which of them are being taken as an example in the NGU`s daily combat activity?

– Standardization agreements or STANAGs can be divided into administrative, operational and logistics ones. We are in the process of creating a new rapid reaction brigade. The process starts from the very beginning and is held in accordance with NATO standards and doctrines. It is planned to implement NATO standards step by step into the daily combat activity of all NGU`s military units and departments. Development of the command & control system, excellence of the training system & personnel policy, combat-service & medical support reforming are among the priorities towards the NATO standards implementation. Let`s take for example the organization of command & control system. A commander of a relevant level must be provided with a radio and secured communication channels. So, the command posts need to be upgraded. According to the Concept of the NGU`s development until 2020 (approved by the Government of Ukraine on February, the 2-nd 2017) it is planned to equip the NGU with communication means and systems corresponding to NATO standards.

The NGU has a single telecommunication space with the Ministry of internal affairs of Ukraine that is why it is very important to assure a high lever of cyber security in the telecommunication system of the NGU. A crisis management center within the Main department of the NGU is created and its following connecting to the state system is planned. The last one is in process of creating now. One of the aspects in this sphere is a testing of electronic document management system in the local network of the NGU`s Main department. And that is an implementation of the NATO standards into communication system indeed.

– What changes will be implemented into the command & control system? It is clear that the NCO`s branch will develop simultaneously with officer`s one.

– Obviously, having of authority by the NCOs is one of the basis principles in the NATO member-states command & control system. Also it is planned to divide the responsibilities between officers and NCOs. Our first step towards implementation of the J-structure is a launching of contest for the position of “Chief Master Sergeant” who will be directly subordinated to the Commander-in-chief of the NGU. The Concept of reforming of the NCO corps has been already approved and it assumes the implementation of the master sergeants` positions. These positions will be created on the level of platoon, company, battalion, brigade and the NGU in general.

– On your opinion what particular changes will take place in the daily combat activity of all categories of the NGU`s servicemen after adopting the NATO standards into command & control system?

– As for me it will change the level of responsibility for the personal areas either for officers or NCOs. Also, some officer’s positions will be substituted by sergeant`s ones. If some guardian gets some training and obtains a certificate in the relevant sphere he is obliged to be an expert in this branch and to improve his (her) professional skills annually. The training process for the instructors has been already launched within the NGU and creating of International multidiscipline training center (Stare) according to the leading international standards is in process. It is planned to create an NCO school based on the NGU`s training centre (Zolochiv) and to continue the training of instructors.  
Concerning the NCOs, while the financial component of their activity will increased it will lead to growing of the prestige of their positions and thus their authority in the units. Sergeants are the junior commanders and leaders within the NATO system that is why these positions must be staffed only with the leaders. As for the officers, they will be responsible for the planning, control and training of the NCOs.

– General, don`t you think this transition will be complicated and long-lasting?

– Of course, I do. It is so hard to implement something new but that’s impossible to build strong, tenable efficient military system without it. This process should be started from improving of the legislation. However, we must remember that it will take more than a year or two. Experience of our American partners showed that after Vietnam War they had needed 20 years to create professional NCO corps. 

– English and French are official languages for the NATO member-states. What is the situation with learning of foreign languages within the NGU?

– During 2016 a lot of work on increasing the language skills of the NGU`s personnel has been made.

According to the recommendations of the Bureau for International Language Co-ordination the training program of the National academy of the NGU (hereinafter – the Academy) for non-linguistic specialists has been updated by adding time for learning of foreign languages (increased up to 460 hours);

Experts and lecturers from the Language Department of the Academy have participated in the NATO special courses (during 2016 5 representatives from the Academy took part in the mentioned events);

The preliminary testing of the cadets-newcomers of the Academy was organized with aim to identify the level of foreign languages skills and to arrange further learning in the groups depending on the level;

Implementation of intensive courses on learning English have been launched based on the Language Department of the Academy (duration – 9-12 weeks);

Owing to assistance of our foreign partners the NGU`s representatives have a possibility to take part in the various educational courses on learning the foreign languages on a regular basis in Ukraine as well as abroad.

Besides, it is planned to provide the requirements on foreign languages skills for some positions (first of all it will concern the command positions in the units), because there is a necessity of availability the experts in different spheres with knowledge of foreign languages to take part in the international exercises, workshops and other events abroad. This approach will allow us to ensure interoperability during the joint international (multilateral) exercises or common tasks fulfilling in the peacekeeping missions.

That is why the Language Department of the Academy is planned to be reorganized into the Language center with aim to speed up the realization of our plans.

– Taking into account the high requirements for the training of personnel in the NATO member-states is it planned to revise the principles of selection the candidates for the contract service within the NGU?

– Of course yes, it is. Having analyzed the results of the previous year we understood that more than a half of the available contracts servicemen had sighed their contracts while serving as the conscripts. Certainly, it is much easier to work with such candidates because while serving in the military groups it is possible to indicate motivation and character of a person. So, that is why we are not going to refuse from the conscripts because it gives us possibility to improve the selection of candidates for the future service on a contract basis.

Moreover, when we succeed in approaching to the NATO standards the level of salaries and responsibility will also grow and as a result the requirements for the servicemen also will become higher. And it is applicable for both officers and contract servicemen. And I would like to pay attention one more time on the fact that everybody will be obliged to study and to improve his (her) personal qualification level. It is naturally: the higher position a serviceman obtains the wider responsibilities are. So, before being promoted it is necessary to follow the relevant education (training) course and pass exams, scilicet to prove your ability to be promoted.

– Tell us please whether the NGU succeed in approaching to the NATO standards in the Logistic  Support?

– As for me, obviously. The creating of the procurement unit within the Main department of the NGU (it is planned to be reorganized into the separate legal entity) and implementation of the automatic procurement system “PROZORRO” was a serious shift in the branch. That is one of the NATO`s requirements. Owing to the significant funding increasing in recent years the situation with ration and clothes support improved significantly, the NGU`s servicemen are being provided with personal apartments, therefore, the improvements are significant without any doubts.

Looking forward it is planned to provide the free meals for the contract servicemen in the units.
As for the medical support sphere, there was created new rehabilitation center for the ATO participants based on the NGU medical centre “Novi Sanzhary” (with assistance of the NATO Trust fund the procurement of the special medical equipment was held). The training program on the tactical medicine is created. The military medical trainings are being conducted in the military units, in particular involving the foreign experts.

– Let`s come back to the current NGU`s cooperation with NATO member-states` defense agencies. What exactly this cooperation means?

– The main goal of our cooperation is learning of NATO`s best practices but also its adopting and implementation into our activity with taking into account Ukrainian realities. Moreover, our experience is very useful for the NATO member-states. So, while the NATO Warsaw summit took place in 2016 there was underlined the fact of holding the confrontation not only in the land, water or air surfaces but also in the information area. It is expressed in the hacking attacks, attempts of database or computer networks breaching. That is why our experience of fighting in the context of a hybrid war is very useful for our western partners.

In other words, the NATO is our partner and advisor, but implementing of reforms is our personal responsibility. Not only our western partners but the Ukrainian society waits on it.

Interviewed by Olha DOLZHENKO

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